We have collected data from 400 children and parents on a novel decision-making paradigm developed in our lab. This project examines how cost discounting in different domains affects a child’s predisposition toward being “impulsive”. For instance, some children may behave impulsively because they are impatient, a trait known as delay discounting (e.g. discounting the value of a future reward if you have to wait for it). This is driven by different systems in the brain than other discounting domains such as probability discounting (e.g. failing to account for low probability of getting a reward, such as in gambling) or effort discounting (e.g. being unwilling to work for something you want). This project incorporates extensive developmental data collected prospectively over the course of the child’s life, as well as genetic data, to understand developmental pathways that lead to different forms of impulsive tendencies. Analyses are underway.
Gatzke-Kopp, L. M. (2011) The canary in the coalmine: The sensitivity of mesolimbic dopamine to environmental adversity during development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 794-803. PMID: 20888857
Socio-Emotional Development in the School Context
PATHS to Success.The Paths to Success project completed data collection but data analyses are still underway with many important questions left to be examined. This project involved a longitudinal study of a randomized clinical trial of a school-based preventive intervention program for high risk children identified by their kindergarten teachers as being aggressive. 207 high-risk children were randomly assigned to participate in an intensive weekly friendship group program during the second half of kindergarten and first half of 1st grade. An additional 132 low-risk children also participated. All children were assessed with a physiological protocol that included heart rate, skin conductance, and EEG/ERP in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades. Example publications appear below.
*Asterisks indicate a graduate student author.
1. Willner, C. J*., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., & Bray, B. (in press). The dynamics of internalizing and externalizing comorbidity across the early school years. Development and Psychopathology 2. Kalvin, C. B.*, Bierman, K., & Gatzke-Kopp, L. M. (in press) Emotional reactivity, behavior problems, and social adjustment at school entry in a high-risk sample. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 3. Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Willner, C. J.*, Jetha, M., K., Abenavoli, R. M.*, DuPuis, D*., & Segalowitz, S. J. (2015). How does Reactivity to Frustrative Non-Reward Increase Risk for Externalizing Symptoms? International Journal of Psychophysiology, 98, 300-309. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.018 4. Willner, C. J.*, Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Bierman, K., Greenberg, M., & Segalowitz, S. J. (2015). Relevance of a neurophysiological marker of selective attention for children’s learning-related behaviors and academic performance. Developmental Psychology, 51, 1148-1162. 5. DuPuis, D.*, Ram, N., Willner, C. J.*, Karalunas, S., Segalowitz, S. J., & Gatzke-Kopp, L.M. (2015). Implications of ongoing neural development for the measurement of the error-related negativity in childhood. Developmental Science, 18, 452-468. PMID: 25209462 6. Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Greenberg, M., & Bierman, K. (2015). Parasympathetic reactivity to specific emotions moderates response to intervention for early-onset aggression. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 44, 291-304. PMID: 24308798 7. Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Jetha, M. K., & Segalowitz, S. J. (2014). The role of resting frontal EEG asymmetry in psychopathology: Afferent or efferent filter? Developmental Psychobiology, 56, 73-85. PMID: 23168718 8. Fortunato, C. F.*, Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., & Ram, N. (2013). Associations between respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity and internalizing and externalizing symptoms are emotion specific. Cognitive and Affective Behavioral Neuroscience, 13, 238-251. PMID: 23233122 9. Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Greenberg, M., Fortunato, C. K.*, & Coccia, M. A. (2012). Aggression as an equifinal outcome of distinct neurocognitive and neuroaffective processes. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 985-1002. PMID: 22781867
SEALS. The SEALS project is a collaborative study with researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Virginia Tech University. This project is designed to provide training and instrumental support to middle school teachers to help them manage classroom behavior and support the socioemotional development of emerging adolescents. Our lab has developed several training modules to help educate teachers about neural and cognitive developmental changes during adolescents and best practices for dealing with behavior issues at this age.
This collaboration is ongoing and future research is being developed.
Farmer, T. W., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Lee, D. L., Dawes, M., & Talbott, E. (in press). Research and policy on disability: Linking special education to developmental science. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Socio-Emotional Development in the Family Context
Maltreating family context. In addition to the school-based studies we have collaborations with researchers focused on the family context from different perspectives. We work closely with Elizabeth Skowron, at the University of Oregon, on research examining mother-child interactions among families in which the mother has perpetrated maltreatment. Past research (example publications below) has examined physiological measures of self-regulation in both the preschool child and his or her mother during their interactions. Dr. Skowron is currently extending this work into the study of a parent-focused intervention program for maltreating mothers.
1. Skowron, E. A., Loken, E., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Cipriano, E. A.*, Rovers, P.*, Van Epps, J.*, Gowda, A.*, & Ammerman, R. T. (2011). Mapping cardiac physiology, parenting, and dyadic processes in maltreating mother-child dyads. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 663-674. PMID: 21842991 2. Cipriano, E. A.*, Skowron, E. A., & Gatzke-Kopp, L.M. (2011). Preschool children's physiology moderates relations between violence exposure and behavioral adjustment. Child Maltreatment, 16, 205-215. PMID: 21593016 3. Skowron, E. A., Cipriano-Essel, E. A., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Teti, D. & Ammerman, R. (2014). Early adversity, RSA, and inhibitory control: evidence of children’s neurobiological sensitivity to social context. Developmental Psychobiology, 56, 964-978. PMID 24142832
Normative family context. We are also actively collaborating with investigators Pamela Cole and Nilam Ram here at Penn State on a research project aimed at analytical modeling of the self-regulation process in young children. We are examining dynamic physiological processes that relate to self-regulatory engagement during an emotion inducing task. This project is currently collecting data from children and parents to understand how parents support and scaffold self-regulation at different stages of early childhood.
In addition to the above projects, collaborations are emerging with a myriad of other researchers within the department and new projects are always on the horizon. If you are interested in biological systems and individual differences within a range of social contexts we have something for you!